Double Trouble for SAG Members?
Posted: Mon., Feb. 4, 2013, 3:00pm PT
White joins AFTRA health and retirement board
National exec director is only trustee on SAG, AFTRA plans
By Dave McNary
In a sign of ramped-up efforts to combine SAG and AFTRA’s health and retirement plans, SAG-AFTRA national exec director David White, already a trustee on the SAG pension and health plan, has been appointed to the AFTRA health and retirement board of trustees.
The move — which makes White the only trustee on both panels — came Saturday during a meeting of the SAG-AFTRA national board, with the vote coming from the AFTRA “legacy” board, consisting of members who held AFTRA slots before the two performer unions merged in March.
Reps for the union and the plans, which are operated separately, had no comment.
White will fill the slot vacated by AFTRA trustee Stephen Burrow. The explanation given at Saturday’s meeting for the move is that White will be able to aid the merger of the plans.
White is listed as one of 18 union trustees on the SAG plan, while Burrow was one of 11 union trustees for the AFTRA plan.
Proponents of the merger touted the combined SAG-AFTRA as having more power than the individual unions and asserted that combining the unions would be a first step toward combining the separate SAG and AFTRA health and retirement plans — and a move toward solving the problem of performers not qualifying for coverage under separate SAG and AFTRA health and pension plans. That issue was a key in the merger campaign, with opponents complaining unsuccessfully that SAG leaders had not performed an audit on the impact of merging the plans.
SAG-AFTRA leaders received a report Saturday about the progress of “reciprocity” and the merger of the plans but gave no details in their recap of the announcement beyond reporting that “discussions are progressing.” Last summer SAG-AFTRA requested the trustees to hold discussions on how to handle the move logistically.
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Yikes! The Ol’ Dog needs a David White! Huh? Yeah That’s a Double!
The Ol’ SAG Watchdog
*photos by Watchdog
David White Appointed to AFTRA Health & Retirement Board
The appointment came Saturday during the union’s national board meeting.
In a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, White confirmed the appointment and added, “I look forward to working on behalf of the Funds’ participants,” referring to union members who receive AFTRA health or retirement benefits.
White was already a trustee of the SAG Pension & Health Plan. The move makes him the only person to serve on both boards – and thus the only person duty-bound to serve two different sets of participants. That may be a tough juggling act as discussions between the two organizations continue.
White replaces AFTRA trustee Stephen Burrow.
SAG P&H and AFTRA H&R are legally independent of the union and each other. Each is governed by a board of trustees composed half of SAG-AFTRA appointees and half of management appointees. SAG P&H has a total of 36 trustees and AFTRA H&R has 22. The union appointees include union staff and members. The management appointees come from the executive ranks of studios, TV networks, and the advertising industry, among others.
Although the unions merged more than 10 months ago, the two P&H/H&R plans have not announced any concrete progress towards unification, which was one of the key arguments for the merger. Members continue to fail to qualify for health coverage or pension credits, sometimes falling short of necessary thresholds by just a few hundred dollars.
According to a statement released by the union Sunday, “the trustees of [the two plans] … continue formal communications regarding the issue of reciprocity and, ultimately, merger between the plans, and discussions are progressing between the two organizations.”
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Can you Spell Conflict Of Interest?